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‘Glass in the Mountains’ Begins Sept. 20; Toe River Celebrating 50th Anniversary of Studio Glass Movement

Sept. 17, 2012. BURNSVILLE – Close to 60 Toe River Valley glass artists have joined forces to create Glass in the Mountains, an activity-rich, four-day celebration that commemorates the 50th anniversary of the birth of the studio glass movement. A dozen galleries as well as studios throughout Burnsville, Bakersville, Penland, and Spruce Pine will be hosting tours, unique glass exhibits, demonstrations, a book signing and even a special “goblets and glasses” wine tasting where locally made, handcrafted wine glasses will be available for sale. The Sept. 20 – 23 events kick off Thursday night, Sept. 20 with glass blowing demonstrations and guided stargazing at the Energy Xchange, a one-time landfill converted into a one-of-a-kind incubator for glass and ceramic artists. On Friday evening, Sept. 21, visitors can look forward to a special “History of Glass in the Toe River Valley” reception at the Toe River Arts Council’s new art center in Spruce Pine. 

“Few places in the country have as rich a history in glass art as we do in the rural Toe River Valley,” says Glass in the Mountains Coordinator Kate Vogel. “Harvey Littleton, recognized worldwide for his remarkable contribution to the studio glass movement in addition to being designated a “North Carolina Treasure,” was instrumental in making this region a hot-bed for glass artists. Our current roster of residents working in glass reads like a ‘Who’s Who in Glass’ directory, with renowned artists such as Mark Peiser, John Littleton, Richard Ritter, Rob Levin, the Bernstein family, Shane Fero, and Rick Beck. One of the things I think visitors will appreciate most is the opportunity to see an incredibly diverse body of work that ranges from functional to sculptural.”

While many of the weekend long activities are free, a limited number of special VIP tickets are also available. “The Littleton family has agreed to open Harvey’s studio, which has been closed to the public for years. The studio not only houses a large selection of his work from the 40s through the 90s, but work from his students as well,” Vogel says. 

On Saturday evening, VIPs will be treated to a gala event held at the Burnsville Town Center. Guests will have to opportunity to mingle with the glass artists before settling in to locally crafted appetizers prepared by Chef Nate Allen of the Spruce Pine based Knife and Fork restaurant. Appetizers and wine will be followed by a lecture and book signing by Joan Falconer Byrd, who discusses her book, Harvey K. Littleton: A Life in Glass. The evening also includes a slide show of local artists’ work and a video that tells the fascinating story of the studio glass movement. (A limited number of non-VIP lecture passes will be made available for a nominal fee.) 

The VIP program also includes a private glassblowing demonstration at The Penland School of Craft as well as a personalized tour of Mark Peiser’s studio. The cost of a VIP ticket is $250. 

“We’re expecting collectors and curators from across the country,” Vogel adds. “I have no doubt it’s going to be a memorable weekend for both visitors and artists alike.”

To view the brochure for the event, click here

The schedule for the weekend is as follows:

Thursday, September 20

Glass blowing demonstrations begin at 4pm, pig roast, gallery exhibit, and stargazing after dark, at the Energy Xchange, Yancey County.

Friday, September 21 

Studio tours and exhibitions throughout Mitchell and Yancey Counties, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. 
Gallery Hop, Spruce Pine 5 – 9 p.m.
Toe River Arts Council “History of Glass in the Toe River Valley” 5-7 p.m.
Mountainside Wine “Goblets and Glasses” and wine tasting 4-6 p.m.
Twisted Laurel Gallery “featuring Gary Beecham” 6-9 p.m. 

Friday VIP Events

Mark Peiser will open his studio to VIP ticket holders 12 – 4 p.m.
Penland School of Crafts will host glass demonstrations and there will be a shuttle to the gallery to see works by Penland-connected glass artists 1 – 4 p.m. 
Hot Shop 1 – 4 p.m.
Kenny Pieper and Greg Fidler
Pablo Soto and Cristina Cordova 
Micah Evans 1 – 2:30 p.m.
Shane Fero 2:30 – 4 p.m.

Saturday, September 22

Studio tours and exhibitions throughout Mitchell and Yancey Counties, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Bakersville Creek Walk Arts Festival, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Openings Burnsville 5 – 7 p.m.
Design Gallery “Glass Artists of the Toe River Valley current work”
Toe River Art Council “A Family Affair: David Wilson & Loretta Forde & Hayden Wilson”
Celebration at the Burnsville Town Center, 7 -10 p.m. Tickets required. (Included in the VIP pass.) 
Desserts, coffee and wine
Visiting with renown glass artists and friends
Book and poster signing by the author and artists  
A Lecture by Joan Falconer Byrd, glass expert and author of “A Life in Glass”
Slide presentation of artists work
Music and dancing 

Saturday VIP Events  

Mark Peiser will open his studio to VIP ticket holders 12 – 4 p.m.
Meet the glass artists, reception at the Burnsville Town Center 6 p.m.
Heavy hors d’oeuvres and libations catered by acclaimed chef Nate Allen of knife and fork restaurant 6 p.m.
Lecture by Joan Falconer Byrd, author of “A Life in Glass”

Sunday, September 23 

Studio tours and exhibitions throughout Mitchell and Yancey Counties, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Sunday VIP Events 

Private tour of Harvey Littleton’s studio, the “founder of the studio glass movement.” On display will be a large selection of his work from the 40s to the 90s, prime examples from his antique collection, a selection of pieces from his collection by students and colleagues from the early years of the studio glass movement, and his extensive collection of prints from glass plates. 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Continental Brunch at the studio.

The VIP Weekend includes all public events. 

In addition to the studios where 50 glass artists make their work, the following locations in Spruce Pine, Burnsville, Penland, Micaville, Celo and Bakersville will host glass exhibitions open to all during the Glass in the Mountains weekend:

Mountainside Wine – “Goblets and Glasses” – Spruce Pine
Twisted Laurel Gallery – “Past and Present” Gary Beecham – Spruce Pine
Toe River Arts Council Gallery – “History of Glass in the Toe River Valley” – Spruce Pine
Toe River Arts Council Gallery – “A Family Affair” Loretta Forde, David and Hayden Wilson – Burnsville
Design Gallery – “Glass Artists of the Toe River Valley, current work” – Burnsville
Yancey County Public Library – “Mason Jars & Old Bottles” exhibit of old glass
Penland Gallery – Penland connections – Penland School of Crafts
OOAK Gallery – “Women Glass Artists of the Valley” – Micaville
Toe River Crafts – “TRC Glass Members” – Celo
Crimson Laurel Gallery – “Potters in Glass” – Bakersville
Mica Fine Contemporary Craft – featuring Pablo Soto – Bakersville
Energy Xchange Gallery – “Glass Residents” – off of Highway 80N